Congress is Out of Touch
The LGBT community may be making gains on Capitol Hill, but HRC reports that not all of government is in step with the issues. HRC released its Congressional Scorecard for the 112th Congress that tells us what members of Congress really think (and do) about LGBT equality. And it’s not always pretty.
“While we continue to make advancements toward equality in Washington, the 112th Congress has more anti-equality members set on halting our progress,” says HRC President Chad Griffin. “Still, we continued pushing the envelope and made history with the first ever hearing and Senate Judiciary Committee approval of the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation repealing the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. And for the second time, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act.”
In the House, about 115 members scored 100 percent, including 33 from states with marriage equality and eight from states facing marriage related ballot measure this November. That’s the good news. In the Senate, however, only 22 scored 100 percent, including seven from states with marriage equality and five from ballot measure states. The number of Senators with a zero percent score decreased from 32 (hooray!) during the last Congress to 14 this year, but disturbingly, in the House, the number of zeroes dramatically increased from 144 to 219 (boo!).
“While the American people move forward on these issues,” says HRC Legislative Director Allison Herwitt, “the majority of Congress – particularly the House – continues to be out of touch.”
For the first time, HRC also lets us know whether or not members of Congress have taken an affirmative position in favor of marriage equality on a state-by-state basis. In Pennsylvania, Sen. Robert Casey voted in favor of most pro-LGBT legislation, with the exception of the Respect for Marriage Act that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure the federal government respects lawful marriages between same-sex couples. Sen. Pat Toomey, however, voted against all such legislation across the board.
In the house, four legislators voted in favor of all pro-LGBT legislation that was up for vote, including Robert Brady, Chaka Fattah, Allyson Schwartz and Mike Doyle. Legislators who voted on select laws include Jason Altmire, Patrick Meehan, Mark Critz, Tim Holden and Todd Platt, though their support was spotty. And many others showed no love for LGBT rights at all, particularly in more rural areas on the state.